What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age on a low income and is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It is a single monthly payment which will eventually replace:
- Income Support
- income related Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA)
- income related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit/Child Tax Credit
To check if this affects you, visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit.
How to claim
Claims for Universal Credit should be made online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.
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Before making a claim, you need to gather the following information and have it ready:
- your postcode
- your National Insurance number
- details of the bank, building society or Post Office account you want Universal Credit paid into
- your rent agreement (if you have one)
- details of your savings or other capital
- details of any income that’s not from work (eg, from an insurance plan)
- details of any other benefits you’re getting
You might also need these details for people who live in your home (eg your partner).
Two child limit on new claims
If you have three or more children you won't be able to make a new Universal Credit claim, unless you are making a re-claim because you were getting Universal Credit within the last 6 months*.
* You can also make a new Universal Credit claim as a single person within one month of a previous joint claim ending, because you are no longer a member of a couple.
Find out more about the two child limit on Gov.uk.
Existing benefit claimants
If you're already claiming any benefits you don't need to do anything. You'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you.
Universal Credit includes housing costs
Any help you get with your rent will be included in your Universal Credit payment and you will be responsible for paying your landlord. In some circumstances payments can be made direct to the landlord, for example, when there are rent arrears or threat of eviction or you find it difficult to manage payments.
Further information for landlords and tenants to help them prepare for the move to direct payments and what protections and safeguards are in place is available on the Gov.uk website.
If you live in Supported Exempt/Specified Accommodation, as well as claiming Universal Credit you will need to claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent as you will not be entitled to claim the housing element of Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will be paid monthly in arrears to one person in the household.
If you can't manage monthly payments of Universal Credit or you're having trouble budgeting, you may be able to have an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA). This can mean paying your Universal Credit more often than monthly, splitting it between you and your partner, or paying Universal Credit for your rent direct to your landlord.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme claimants
Help with Council Tax is not included in your Universal Credit payment. The DWP will not accept a claim for council tax support at the same time as you claim Universal Credit.
You must apply for Council Tax Reduction directly through our benefits service once you have applied for Universal Credit. If you don't apply for your council tax support at this time, you may not receive your maximum entitlement.
Do you need help claiming Universal Credit, or do you need support to help you manage? Find out how.